ALDS Game 3: Phil Hughes pregame interview
NEW YORK YANKEES
Q. You pitched a pretty good game against this team about a month ago in their ballpark. What do you remember about that game specifically, and what do you take from that going into tomorrow?
PHIL HUGHES: I remember it was probably the first or second game that I really used my slider quite a bit, and I think that could be a big pitch against this team that really likes to hit the fastball. So yeah, I mean, it’s a tough lineup. Obviously tomorrow is going to be a big game, either playing to stay alive or playing to move on.
I remember it was a good atmosphere over there, and it’s going to be the same tomorrow here.
Q. You had a tough series against Texas a couple years ago in the postseason and didn’t start last year. How much have you been looking forward to getting back out there in the postseason start and trying to redeem yourself a little bit?
PHIL HUGHES: Yeah, it’s a great opportunity. Like I said, last year was a disappointing season, and the year before that, pitching a good game against Minnesota and not then pitching at all against Texas. I’ve been looking forward to this, and it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be, like I said, a good atmosphere here and something I really look forward to.
Q. Can you characterize your year, what you were happiest about, what you may not have been happy about?
PHIL HUGHES: Well, I was happy with the way I was able to rebound from some tough starts, and that was something that we really emphasized on, just not letting things snowball and get out of control when they were bad. Obviously some things I was disappointed with. I had a bad start to the season, had some bad starts mixed in. But looking at the positives, I felt like I was able to get the ball every five days and give us a chance to win as much as I could.
Kind of an upanddown season, but you can’t really look at the regular season when it comes to times like this. You just throw that out the window and just try to do the best job you can.
Q. We talked during the season about properly harnessing your adrenaline and controlling it in the early innings. Does that become more of a challenge in the playoffs?
PHIL HUGHES: Well, it can be, definitely. Obviously, it’s something that, you look forward to these big games, but at the same time you are going to have that little adrenaline boost and control that and make sure you get a good couple innings underneath you, and then the nerves will settle a little bit and you can kind of focus on pitching. But it’s going to be a challenge, and hopefully just come out of the gate throwing strikes and then things will settle down from there.
Q. Does starting Game 4 impact your confidence at all versus pitching if you were selected for Game 2 or Game 3?
PHIL HUGHES: It really doesn’t. I mean, you make the argument that these games later in the series mean more. I look at every start, every opportunity that I have as a challenge, and I don’t really focus on where I’m lined up or anything like that, just go out and do the absolute best job I can and not focus too much on the circumstances, just focus on every pitch I can possibly make.
Q. Who in their lineup is your toughest atbat and why?
PHIL HUGHES: Well, you know, with Markakis out, he was one of them. I’ve had a he’s one of the longest hitter guys on the team so I probably have the most experience with him. But other than him Adam Jones is always a tough atbat, Chris Davis having a breakout season. There’s not really one guy you can point to and say he may be the toughest atbat. They have guys up and down that lineup that can hurt you. You get one guy out but there’s still eight guys you’ve got to go after. I just have a good game plan and try to execute every pitch.
Q. A few minutes ago Joe Girardi told some of the writers that win or lose tonight you’ll be starting tomorrow’s game rather than bringing CC back on short rest. How does it feel that he has the confidence in you to put you out there potentially in an elimination game?
PHIL HUGHES: Yeah, like I said, tomorrow we’re either going to go on or we’re going to survive. I don’t really think too much into it. Like I said, I don’t really focus on the circumstances, just if I’m given the opportunity go out and pitch as well as I can, and that’s really it. Whether I was given the opportunity or not, I’ll be prepared for it, and that’s really all I can do.
Q. Results aside, do you feel like this has been a growth year for you? You’ve adjusted your approach, you’ve added a pitch, sort of sharpened the stuff that you had. Does it feel from the start of the season until now that you’ve taken a step up in your growth as a pitcher?
PHIL HUGHES: Yeah, I think so. Maybe a little bit. Obviously last year was disappointing and I would have liked to have built on 2010. But I just look at every year as a different path. Obviously this postseason is going to provide its challenges, but like I said, I don’t really think about what I’ve done this year or in years past, I just kind of focus on what I can do for this team or this opportunity.
Q. You mentioned those appearances in Texas two years ago. Is there anything you can draw from those two starts against Texas, or do you try to just put those starts out of mind?
PHIL HUGHES: Yeah, I try to forget about them. You don’t really want to linger on the negative. But every postseason start and things like that is an experience and something I can learn from. But it’s a different team, different lineup, and I think I kind of know what to expect going into this, and that’s something I can certainly learn from.
But every start, every team kind of provides their own difficulties, their own challenges.
It’ll be nice having a little bit of experience going into this, but as far as drawing anything from their team specifically, it’s kind of its own new experience.
Q. There’s been a lot of talk about facing the same team these 20 times and all this stuff and how much you guys know about the Orioles and vice versa. How is that for you? What’s your perspective on it?
PHIL HUGHES: It’s hard to say. I mean, they see more, we see them more. It’s all back and forth. I think everybody has got their reports, scouting reports and things like that. But you certainly know their guys just from playing in the division all year, especially down the stretch like you mentioned, playing them so often.
But I think as long as you feel confident with the game plan we have going in, there’s really no advantage either way. We just have to it’s going to come down to who executes, and that’s really all it is.
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